The Monster Energy Cup is the most significant offseason race for 450 Supercross teams, allowing riders an opportunity to measure their progress with their existing team heading into the 2018 series. And we can’t forget the million dollar grand prize to any rider who finishes first in all three main events. For other riders like Justin Barcia, MEC is an audition for any future potential team exploring options. The unfortunate truth is riders get hurt while preparing for Anaheim 1 in January. If a team is in need of a last minute fill in, a standout MEC performance can move a rider to the top of the possible replacements list.
The MEC is unlike other Supercross races in format and track design. Adding in a Joker’s Lane that Marvin admitted in the postrace press conference he forgot about in his first race. Feld (the promoter) utilizes the Monster Cup as a trial to test format and track changes. It also allows for amateurs who qualified via Loretta Lynn’s Amateur National a chance to race on a tamed down (highly debatable) Supercross track in front of thousands of spectators, live on TV. While I enjoyed watching these kids take center stage I also wondered about the safety hazard of sending kids in the middle of puberty (makes them crazy and irrational) out on a track with such aggressive obstacles. The first couple of practices and qualifying sessions looked more like Russian Roulette than Supercross racing. The amateurs represent the epitome of “whatever it takes” and at such a young age unfortunately, some of them need to be protected from themselves. With that said I thoroughly enjoy watching them show off their incredible talents, but am conflicted if this is good for them or if they are being exploited for entertainment purposes.
It only took 7 years, but Marvin Musquin finally duplicated Ryan Villopoto’s inaugural MEC win. Heading into the first main event the biggest threat to Marvin was Eli Tomac, but Eli went down hard in the first race and was unable to continue the rest of the night. With Eli out, the race quickly became Musquin’s millions as he easily cruised through three wins to take home the million. The only rider who appeared to be formidable competition was Jason Anderson. Both Marvin and Jason train at the Baker’s Factory so it was difficult to imagine a pass from Anderson in the third main event, Anderson’s lap times reflected his lack of aggression. Let me be clear though, I do NOT think Anderson gave Marvin the win however, if Blake Baggett was the rider going for the million dollars JA would have charged a little harder. At the postrace press conference I asked Marvin what his thoughts were being “the man” heading into the offseason and in typical Marvin style he downplayed his ride. He expressed it felt great but it really didn’t carry much weight when Anaheim rolls around. What was more interesting was the look Jason Anderson shot me when I called Marvin “the man.” Jason looked as though I had insulted his mother. While I am sure he is happy for his teammate the truth is these guys don’t achieve the highest level of racing by accepting someone’s performance as better than them. I suspect tension will come to a boil at the Baker’s Factory this offseason.
Eli Tomac remains a mystery. At times he would lay down a few sections looking like the fastest guy on earth but then he would follow up with a major mistake. He has a few months to figure things out, but right now Marvin Musquin looks to be the favorite going into 2018. We all know Ken Roczen says he will be at Anaheim 1 and according to Jeremy McGrath he looks very fast. The MEC might have created more questions than answers heading into 2018. Let the bench racing begin, we have a few months to debate and lock in our predictions for 2018.
Nobody was taking a knee during this National Anthem! Great tribute to the victims of the Vegas shooting too.
After getting throttled by Stephane Roncada while testing out the new Supercross game I decided to sit back and learn. Game will be released Feb 2018 and it is insanely realistic!